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Teacher: M.N.

Weir
Grade level: 12
Government
College Prep
Graduation Requirement
College Entrance Requirement
COURSE DESCRIPTION: A study of the U.S. Constitution, government institutions, political systems and
activities, and civic values and participation.
COURSE OBJECTIVES: Through Socratic questioning students will:
*Explore root issues regarding the government and the distribution of power in our government
*Compare ideals of the Constitution with actual practice.
*Understand the reasons for and assumptions underlying rights guaranteed under the Bill of
Rights.
*Develop their perspectives on human rights, and functions and limits of government.
*Transfer insight into the Constitution to current events.
INSTRUCTIONAL UNITS:
UNIT I. GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENSHIP
A. What is government?
1. Theories of government: “The Enlightenment”, Locke, Montesquieu,
Rosseau, Marx, etc.
2. Why do societies need government?
“Do It Yourself Constitution.”
3. Major functions of government.
B. Citizenship
1. How to become a citizen
2.Rights and duties
3.Roles of citizen participation
UNIT II.CREATING A NATIONAL GOVERNMENT
A. Articles of Confederation
B. Constitutional Convention
1. Virginia Plan
2. New Jersey Plan
3. Controversies, conflicts, and compromises
C. Division of Powers: delegated, reserved, concurrent, denied
D. Bill of Rights
1. Historical perspectives
2. Contemporary perspectives
E. Separation of Powers: Legislative, Executive, Judicial
1. Checks and balances
2. Constitutional changes
UNIT III.
THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT
A. The Legislative Branch ---Congress
1. Structure and function
2. Decision making:
a. Leaders
b. Committees
c. Lobbies
d. How a bill becomes a law
3.Limits on Congress
B. The Executive Branch--------Presidency
1.
Major roles of the President
2.
Resources and activities

3.
Limits on the President
4.
Historical perspectives on the President and Presidential
Power
C. Judicial Branch
1.
Marbury vs. Madison
2.
McCullock vs. Maryland
3.
The Court System
4.
Landmark decisions of the Court
5.
The Justices
6.
Limits on the Court
Unit IV
ELECTIONS
A. Kinds of Elections
B. Voter Registration
C. Political Parties
1. Historical perspectives
2. Structure of political parties
3. Comparing parties
4. Function of political parties
5. Skills for organizing and working in groups
D. Electoral College
E. Citizen participation in election activity
Activities:
Students will have active participation in: readings in primary and secondary sources: writings:
lectures: discussions: resource persons from the community: field experiences: current events: audiovisuals: role-plays and simulations: special projects: and research.
Materials:
Text:

CONSTITUTIONAL STUDY GUIDE by Prentice Hall

Supplemental Materials:
AMERICAN GOVERNMENT: COMPARING POLITICAL EXPERIENCES by
Gillespie and Lazarus
Interact
News magazines
Newspapers
Audio-visuals
COURSE REQUIREMENT:
ATTENDANCE: Being in class each day is important. Excessive absences affect your grade. It
will be difficult to do well in this class if you are absent for any reason.
PARTICIPATION: Each day you are to have a pen or pencil, paper, all assigned materials and
any assignment due. Please do your work in pen. Include a title on each assignment. Your active
participation in class discussions and activities is vital.
FIELD EXPERIENCE: Students are expected to participate in one field experience. You will
receive a maximum of 100 points for the field experience. This will be arranged by yourself or by a small
group. In order to receive credit you must complete a Field Experience Report: these should be completed
as soon after the experience as possible. If you are unable to do a field experience you may do alternative
assignments such as reviewing a Congressional hearing on CSPAN.

HOMEWORK: Homework will be assigned regularly as reenforcement of the learning
objectives of the course. Assignments will be due on given dates. Late work will not be accepted. Excused
absences-work will be due within 2 days.
TERM PROJECT: The term paper will be based on a controversial issue. The purpose of the
assignment is to create or revise a new law and to argue its merits based on statistics, polls and research
data. The term paper will be due at an assigned date and it will be graded on: accuracy of research;
developing pros and cons; rationale of new statute.
EXTRA CREDIT: Students may earn extra credit by writing a two page analysis of a current
event (media or political party meeting.)

GRADING:

Grades will be based on the following:
1.
2.
3.

Class assignments (HW and in class)………40%
Tests (including project)……………………40%
Participation………………………………...20%

The following grading scale will be used:
A=90% B=80% C=70% D=60% F=less than 60%

Field reports
Format:

Field Reports will be two pages, typed, double spaced, 1" margins and 10 or
12 CPI.

1.

Type your story on one side of the paper only, using 8.5 x 11" paper.

2.

Make it complete and concise.

3.

Always use first and last names, and completely identify every person
mentioned.

4.

Go easy on the adjectives.

5.

Use short words, short sentences, short paragraphs.

6.

Never use “I”, “we” __ i.e. the first person.

7.

Present the information in a news format which include the following order:
Who?

What?
When?
Where?
Why?
Detailed Information
General
Miscellany

8.

Conclude the report with an analysis of the process. For example, does the
judicial system work? or is the city council efficient? responsive?

Suggested Field/Speaker Experiences
LEGISLATIVE
District Office of the U.S. Congressman/Congresswoman
District Office of State Assemblyman
District Office of State Senator
County Board of Supervisors
City Council - - Petaluma
School Board
State Capitol - - Sacramento
Planning Commission - - city or county
JUDICIAL
Municipal Court
Superior Court
State Supreme Court - - San Francisco
Jury Commissioner
District Attorney
Public Defender
Probation Department
EXECUTIVE
Sonoma County Courthouse
Police Department
Sheriff’s Department
County Jail
Police Academy
FBI
CHP Academy
OTHERS
Rehab. Houses (drug rehab. Facility for teens)
Private attorney
Interest groups (MADD: SADD: Sierra Club: Green Peace)
Taxpayer Assoc., etc.
Elections Department
Political parties - - local headquarters
County Honor Farm
State Conservation Camp
County Drug Program Offices
Native American Preserves (Yakaama: Miwok Village, etc.)
Human Rights organizations
University and College professors
World Affairs Council

CP American Government
Mrs. Weir

TERM PAPER
Objective:
Goal:

Researching a political issue.
Select a policy issue for which you will propose legislation
: Define the issue
: Current law or lack thereof

Format:

Introduction

: Introduce topic
: thesis statement (the point you are trying to prove in your paper)
Propose Policy & Background
: Current status of policy
: Parties involved

Required Elements in the Paper

Include the following steps:
: cost
: social impact
: societal acceptance
- survey/poll with graphs (random sampling)
- who is your target constituency (lobbyists, PACs - How will it
get through Congress)
- focus group --> people targeted - opponents?
- political alliances necessary to pass this legislation?
Guidelines: Five pages (not including cover page, Bibliography or endnotes)
: Typed, double spaced, 1" margins (top, bottom, left and right),
10 or 12 CPI
: 50 note cards
: Outline & Thesis Statement
: Cover page - with title, name, period and date
: Bibliography
: Endnotes

Possible Topics
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
14.
15.
16.
17.
18.
19.
20.
21.
22.
23.
24.
25.
26.
27.
28.
29.
30.

Immigration
Surrogate Mothers
Welfare
School uniforms
Condom distribution in schools
Gun control
Genetic engineering
Use of fetal tissue for experimental drugs
Animal rights
Handicapped rights
Gay rights - military
Gay rights - adoption
Affirmative action
Prayer in school
Women in the military / police / fire department
Death penalty
Euthanasia
NAFTA
Balanced budget
Media in courts
Bilingual Education
Term Limits
Censorship - Media/Internet
Sexual Harassment
School Vouchers
Prisoner’s Rights
Three Strikes Law
Commercialization in H.S. - Channel One.
Gay Rights - Benefits (marriage/medical)
Headwaters Forest

31. Testing for Steroids

Current events
Objective:

News reports will be analyzed critically and reflectively. Current event
reports should include newspaper articles, magazine articles, editorials,
TV and radio broadcasts.

Strategies:

1.

Enter the name of the media.

2.

Enter the title of the article or broadcast.

3.

Why did you pick the news subject?
2.
Was it something you wanted to know or something
you had to know?
3.
Was this a headline article or a back page article?
2.
Is there a significance in the placement and
emphasis of your article?
3.
Who made that decision?
4.
Was this something everyone should know? Why?
Why not?

4.

What facts are mentioned in this story?
2.
What is the main point?
3.
Do the facts seem complete?
4.
Are there important questions left unanswered?
What? Why?
5.
Are both sides represented?
6.
Does it tell you everything you need to know to be
able to judge the situation?

5.

Are the sources and facts reliable?

6.

Does anyone connected with the story have a vested interest in what
people believe about it?

7.

Was this news story presented in another media? Does the
assumption of the story vary with the portrayal of the story? (T.V. vs
newspaper: magazine article vs editorial: etc.)

8.

What conclusions, if any, can you reach about this story?